Tuesday, 7 August 2012

In Conversation with Marva Dasef

We are in for a treat today. My guest is
Marva Dasef
the multi published, award winning author, well known for her popular middle grade Fantasy series Witches of Galdorheim.

Welcome Marva,

Let's take our cushions to the garden seat behind the hedge and sit in the sun. Fresh lemonade? Good. Now tell us:

What's the most interesting thing about you that you believe helped you grow as a writer?

In college (English major, what else?), I got a part-time job at the Computer Center assisting the programmers in documenting a new operating system. I took a few computer science courses and a technical writer was born. This gave me over 30 years of paid experience writing and editing documentation before I began writing fiction full-time. This is only interesting considering that I would never have taken any computer courses except for lucking into that student job. Kismet.

It's strange how we are given the tools to fulfill our dreams. The trick is in recognizing them and using them. The reading public is grateful you did.

Are you comfortable in one writing space or do you move about to change the atmosphere?  

I write at my desk since I have a desktop computer. I have a laptop, but I hate the keyboard. I use an ergonomic keyboard to keep carpal tunnel away. You can see it in this pic 

Your desk looks like mine, nice and big, placed in front of a similar sized window. Mine faces north, though. Lovely view over the rooftops but the glare of the afternoon sun makes me close the blind.

     What is it about MG & YA Fantasy that stimulates your muse?

I love fantasy for all ages, and I’m drawn particularly to stories based on various mythologies. I love when an author takes a standard Greek myth such as Perseus and turns it into something else. A great example is the Rick Riordan series in a ‛what-if’ Poseidon’s son lived in modern times (Percy Jackson series).

 I don’t get my specific ideas from any famous books—I am not a fanfic writer. I have run into a couple of instances when my idea turned out to be in another book I’d never read. Great minds, and all that. My granddaughters clued me into a location used in a famous book. I changed my location when I found out, otherwise people would think I took the other writer’s idea. I don’t do that. Any resemblance of my fantasy to any other writer’s fantasy is purely coincidental.

Great minds...I know. Writers and other creative people do tend to tap into the Universal Unconsciousness. Just take the story of Noah and the Flood. Almost all cultures had a version of that before they ever came in contact.

Can you give us some examples of how you used mythology in your books?

Setara’s Genie is based primarily on middle-eastern mythology. The genie is obvious, but I found a few things to add to the various legends. Researching a general area of myth invariably leads to at least one character and a plot line or two.

Cover artist: Kaytalin Platt
In the Witches of Galdorheim series, I begin with traditional Norse and Celtic mythology. I then abuse them terribly. I hate to leave anything well enough alone. I’ve always loved Edvard Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. I’ve always wanted to write about trolls, but make them the good guys.

You 'hate to leave anything well enough alone', LOL I love that, hahaha.

Are you writing for a specific person?

My granddaughters. I like them to read everything I write as early in the process as possible. As I mentioned above, they once saved me from a fanfic faux pas.

That's nice. I found my grandchildren were wonderfully helpful, too, causing me to make major changes which worked much better.

Do any of your characters, settings or situations turn up in your other books?

 I deliberately use characters and settings in more than one place if I can fit it in.  I’ve researched my butt off and always have tons of spare ideas related to those I use in one book to pass along to another book. It’s just efficient use of material. In Setara’s Genie, I have one cross-over character and the general setting in another book, which I hope to have published in the future.

It's easy to love your characters and settings, Marva, so I'm glad to hear they will continue for our reading pleasure.

 Does your own fat white cat influence the personality of any of your characters?

 Ha! Dusty spends 90% of his time sleeping, so not much personality to use. However, we feed a feral stray (don’t tell anybody; we’re not supposed to do this) who we tried to adopt, but she’s too skittish and cranky. She’s also loud and demanding. We named her Bitchy. She’s the model for Cait Sidhe (the cat fairy) featured in Scotch Broom, the 3rd book in the Witches of Galdorheim series. 
Cait Sidhe

Oh my! Cait Sidhe has attitude and personality to boot. I can imagine her ruling any story she inhabits.

Do you listen to your muse, do you trust her, or does she get in the way of your stories sometimes?

She must be manipulating my subconscious. I give credit to her for whispering ideas to me so subtly that I mistake them for my own. So, yes, I trust her or I don’t trust myself.

I envy you. Mine is so timid. She wastes my time and leads me into brick walls. So I send her outside to play in the sand while I have fun wreaking havoc in my stories.

  How do you juggle your writing with family life and promotion?

 Family life is easy. I make dinners for my mom, but she gets whatever we have. She lives close by so I’m sort of the meals on tennies service. Other than that, promoting is the big time drain on even attempting to be creative. Look at me right now, conversing about my writerly ways and my upcoming new release.

Having your mum living close by and being able to help her must be such a blessing.  I'm so glad you found time to converse about your writerly ways with me today. I love to talk 'writing' with writers. Wish it really could be face to face.

Your new book is soon to be released. What is it about?

Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek
Setara’s Genie is scheduled for official release from MuseItUp Publishing on August 17th. Most of my releases showed up on Amazon before the official release date.

Since I sweated over it, I’ll plug the blurb here. I hope it piques the interest of MG/YA fantasy readers.

Setara’s Genie

A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.

As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

I would like to mention that I use the frame story technique similar to 1001 Arabian Nights. Everybody knows Scheherazade has to start a new story every night, then leave it unfinished so her husband won’t kill her. It’s more complicated than that, but you can look that up. My book uses the frame story of Abu Nuwas, the story teller, relating the adventures of Setara to a poor spice seller. The frame story has its own plot, while Setara’s tales are a series of seven interrelated stories interspersed within the frame story. How clever is that? Or complicated?

Very clever! A wonderful frame for a feast of stories. I love your book trailer video and the music.

We can learn more about Marva Dasef and her books at

 MuseItUp Link: Setaras Genie - MuseItUp
*Note there’s a 20% pre-order discount until 8/16.

Amazon Link: (coming soon, watch Marva's blog)

Twitter Handle: @Gurina

***Be sure to leave a comment below because...

 Marva will be giving away free ebooks to a randomly selected commenter on each of her blog tour stops (this is a pre-release stop, but still part of the tour). Be sure to leave contact info, or some way to get hold of you if you’re selected. If she can’t find you, she can’t give you a prize. Marva will also include all comments on all her blog tour spots for a grand prize including a gift certificate to   MuseItUp Bookstore.

Another lemonade, anyone? :) Any Questions?


Penny's Tales said...

Good morning Marva and Wendy. Marva, wow, your new book sounds like a winner! And of course, like all the rest, your cover is an eye-catcher. Loved the video also. Tons of good luck on your tour!

Wendy - Great site!

Marva Dasef said...

What a creative person Wendy is! She made my dull interview into a real conversation.

Thanks, Wendy.

Hi Penny!

J Q Rose said...

My goodness, but Marva is truly a spinner of tales. Seven plus? It sounds complicated to work all of this in. I'll have to see how she does that! Sounds like fun! Excellent interview and I liked Wendy's presentation. May I come and sit on the cushions in the garden and listen to the tales? Best wishes with your new release!

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderfully entertaining interview, ladies. I love that you're writing for your granddaughters, Marva. No run-of-the-mill Grandma here! Congrats on your latest release, and keep shaking up those old myths!

Annie said...

Loved eavesdropping on the chat and that cat is certainly an enchanter.
I'm so looking forward to reading this book.

Lorrie said...

Hi Ladies.

I loved Arabian nights. Now I can imagine a bazzar, a teller of tales, and an unhappy girl.

I've ready many of your books, Marva. You have a fantasic imagination. I know the deep research you have done on all your books. Keep messing with those myths, your characters are great.

This should be another winner for you.

Wendy said...

What a lovely group to sit and chat with, Marva. Thank you for stopping by, everyone. I can feel the smiles radiating from you all. There's nothing as good as a writers' get together, especially when we have such an interesting guest of honour.

Cheryl said...

Nice interview. Love the cat picture!

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview. Love the look on the cat. Wow.. hehe.
Writing for your grandchildren would be so rewarding.
Mine will have to be much older before they read my stories. LOL.

Wendy said...

Thanks for stopping by Cheryl and Rosalie. Marva's fairy cat sure is a beauty.

Good Luck all - hope you win Marva's new book. :)

Marva Dasef said...

I appreciate everybody's comments. I'll be selecting prize winners from the commenters at the end of the month.

Check my blog for the schedule of all the blog tour stops.

Marva Dasef said...

I appreciate everybody's comments. I'll be selecting prize winners from the commenters at the end of the month.

Check my blog for the schedule of all the blog tour stops.